A powerful case for electric-vehicle charging stations at BSA camps

If you believe the sci-fi novels, by the time our Scouts are ready to buy their first car, an all-electric vehicle may be their only option.

These vehicles don’t pollute, and they’re cheaper to drive than their gas or gas-electric hybrid counterparts.

But you don’t have to wait for the future to own one. Most major carmakers either have an all-electric model for sale now, or they’re developing one to put on the market soon.

The increasing prevalence of electric vehicles, or EVs, led two Scouters to make a case for adding EV charging stations at BSA camps and national high-adventure bases.

Bob Bruninga and Gary Wilson lay out their cases below.

I sent their arguments to Eric Hiser, the BSA volunteer who serves as National Standards Chair for the National Camp Accreditation Program. His response:

“I am intrigued by it, and we will certainly give it some consideration during the next standards revision or possibly as a stand-alone recommended practice revision.”

See the arguments for EV charging stations below, and share your thoughts in the comments.

From Gary Wilson, assistant district commissioner in the Bucks County Council:

As leaders cars at Scout camps are typically parked for a few days, a simple, conventional 110 VAC outlet is all that is needed to recharge an electric vehicle. Not only would this support the recent BSA emphasis on sustainability, it could also become a very positive and inexpensive public relations project, much like the sustainability initiative at the Summit.

From Bob Bruninga, Eagle Scout:

Every car MFR now makes electric vehicles. They are coming.

The BSA has a great opportunity to further emissions-free renewable energy transportation by making sure (at practically NO COST) that Scout camps are EV-friendly. This simply means they understand that an EV (of any make or model) draws no more from any standard 120v outlet than a toaster or coffeepot (12 amps). And the cost to charge is under 20 cents an hour, or under $2/day to replenish a 40 mile EV trip to camp.

Therefore scout camps with readily available outlets adjacent to a parking spot, should place EV CHARGING signs over these existing outlets and have a procedure for accepting about $2/day for an EV to plug in. This can be paid at the Trading Post or camp office and receive a placard to set on the rear-view mirror, showing that the car has paid and is authorized to plug in.

We must educate scouts that EVs are coming and they do not need special charging stations, especially when they are parked for hours and can equally well charge up on any standard outlet. Every Scout needs to see these signs and make this realization for their future of clean renewable transportation.

10 thoughts on “A powerful case for electric-vehicle charging stations at BSA camps

  1. Electricity is not emissions free, nor are the cars non-polluting. Electricity must be created. Most of the country uses coal to create electricity. There is loss over the lines, so that makes it inefficient. Also, the batteries are horribly toxic and create pollution in their manufacture and in their disposal.

    If you want to offer charging stations, that’s fine. It just bugs me when people talk about electric cars as if they are pollution free miracles. The carbon footprint of an electric car is equal to a gas model that’s been driven over 100 miles.

    • I’m hardly the expert on this, but at least with electric cars you have the option of recharging them using nonpolluting energy sources, like wind. That’d not an option for powering gas cars.

      • Also, one must take into consideration that the wind power stations pollute is several ways:
        – a once beautiful, unspoiled vista is now interrupted by hundreds of these giant windmills, and
        – these unsightly, immense blades, scything through the air, kill hundreds of not thousands of migratory birds each year – I guess the benefit is it feeds the coyotes ;-}>

    • And the “carbon footprint” is a hoax that has made some former vice presidents hundreds of millions of dollars.

  2. Please don’t buy in to “no pollution” – it is mearly displaced to the point that the energy was generated…now if you want no pollution, then put in a solar-or wind-powered station, – or how about where each scout on a trek walks the first 5 miles of his trek on a treadmill.

    While this may be a good idea, let’s not fall into the “sustainability” trap, which is used in Washington to support not only conservation, but a number of hair-brained schemes aimed at taking away our freedoms.

  3. I do not believe the science is clear on whether or not electric cars are better or worse for the environment. I have seen recent peer-reviewed articles that disputed any carbon emissions reductions from electric vehicles.

    More concerning to me is that the source for the rare minerals used in electric cars comes from miners who have no human rights. A large part of misery on earth remains in areas with these mines.

    If people want electric cars I support them, and I know that there is a possibility that they might be reducing carbon emissions, but it’s not so clear.

  4. An item not covered here (completely) is the cost of building and maintaining EV Recharging Stations. It’s just not as simple as having a home-style exterior outlet. And, there is a lot more cost than simply $2/day in electric bills to cover the costs of EV Charging Stations that would be used on a seasonal (as opposed to continuous) basis.

    For Example, the Rocky Mountain Institute estimates the cost of a curbside EV Charging Station to be around $6,000. (http://cleantechnica.com/2014/05/03/ev-charging-station-infrastructure-costs/)

    Add the additional insurance, cost of electricity (which is rising rapidly), lack of heavy duty electrical infrastructure supplying BSA Camps, etc., along with the cost of overcapacity, (stations sitting idle during camp season), and ongoing repair/replacement costs…

    This could be a terrific idea for those driving EVs that simply doesn’t make economic sense for the BSA to provide.

  5. Certainly hope that Eric Hiser, the BSA volunteer who serves as National Standards Chair for the National Camp Accreditation Program, will take these comments into consideration when looking at this.

  6. Conversation like this is always the start of any plan for “Sustainability” but to Tina’s point, there are very few states which source a typical electric power outlet with a better footprint than a Gas-Powered-Car.

    However, it IS THESE CONVERSATIONS that lead us in the directions of realizing this. As funding goes to these options, if we stay diligent we are moving in the right direction. In actuality right now, most sources agree that the Standard Toyota Prius STILL has the lowest Carbon Footprint of any car in almost every state. Taps the Gas-Emissions MUCH LESS and does not tap the Electric Grid at all.

    My wife’s 2006 Prius has covered the Footprint of my Supercharged V-8 for years (right?) but seriously at 180k+ miles in now on the Prius, we never would have considered it back then if it weren’t for ongoing conversations in society like this.

    (Still though, a charging station with wind or solar attached directly to it makes more of a true Boy-Scout Sustainability statement in ANY state. Every state with a BSA High-Adventure Camp still has a worse carbon footprint for electric than for Gas, sadly.)

  7. Initially – I love the idea. It’s green. It’s clean. But… I think a cost-benefit would have to be considered first. I can think of four reasons why it’s not to the BSA’s benefit.
    1. Usage. Most units travel beyond the range of EVs. Until these vehicles can travel more than 100+ miles on a single charge, spending the kind of money to bring in charging stations would benefit only a small number of campers. I know in our Council, we encourage units to carpool as much as possible – which normally means minivans, church busses etc. Which leads to point 2…
    2. Cars in camp. Most camps are trying to limit cars in camp. Traffic, parking, and pedestrian safety are all serious concerns. Many camps ask units to carpool or take a council-provided bus. Summit banned personal vehicles on site during Jamboree.
    3. Precedent. We’ve never had “filling stations” on site – be it for gas, diesel or anything else. (Although I confess to begging for a gallon from the council reserve tank to get down the mountain once.)
    4. Load factors. Many camps have an electrical grid that can barely support the growing electrical demand of computers, phones, tablets, etc. I know when I did NCAP visits for program development – camp after camp had problems with supporting the various needs of the staff and volunteers. To add charging cars to this would only exacerbate the problem. Before we bring in charging stations for small cars, I’d prefer to see the money spent on solar panels on the camp admin buildings.

    NOW – if someone were to give a large sum of money to Friends of Scouting to allow us to upgrade our electrical grid at these camps to support the chargers, I’m sure many camp directors could be “convinced.” 🙂 But I know at our camps – money was needed far more for repairs and replacements to our core program. Money is really tight out here. And kids need kayaks more than they need an EV charging station.

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